The teenagers from the surrounding towns called our town Death Valley.
I remember standing in front of Adam’s casket. I was 17. He was 17. He had on his high top sneakers. They were shiny and red. At least I think they were red. It was so long ago, I don’t really remember. He wore high tops all the time though. Of every damn color you could imagine. He was wearing the requisite 80’s men’s blazer. Sleeves rolled up of course. Our Adam. His face was at peace, but we weren’t. He’d lost his life a few days before. Driving under the influence of so many things and driving way too damn fast. His head was so damaged from the accident. The casket was open because he was Greek Orthodox, but it shouldn’t have been. He looked dead. He looked horrible. I sobbed as I stood there and I had my senior picture in my hand.
When I was talking to Tracy this week I recalled a conversation I’d had with Adam. It was a snow day during our Junior year of high school. He told me he liked me for more than a friend. I told him I felt the same. Then he broke my tender teenage heart. He told me if we did go out, he would just use me. I thanked him for being honest but inside I was devastated. I longed to taste his kiss, and hold his hand. Hey, we were teenagers, we hadn’t got to the whole sex thing yet.
I stood in front of his casket and cried. Thought about his ending. About us as survivors. The surviving teenagers in Death Valley, Saline, MI. The deaths weren’t over yet. There would be more accidents, a heart attack, a suicide. We’d lose more of our youth, our innocence. And our immortality. I looked at Adam’s face one more time. I said goodbye to his life and his light. His beautiful smile. I dropped my senior picture onto his chest, along with the hundreds of others. Then I turned to my friends and hugged them. We then went outside to the porch and had a smoke with the rest of my stoner friends.